Month: April 2022

Sobering Thoughts Volume Seven – Teenage Dream

After a small hiatus, Sobering Thoughts is back. Apologies to my fans for not posting last week… but I have had a tricky couple of weeks and did not feel up to writing.

But fear not, I am back now and ready to write something for you and I to read. I know so many will be eagerly anticipating this return. Its probably almost as big as the time that lad from Bethlehem came back after having a few days off.

Thank you to everyone who sent such positive and supportive messages regarding the interview on BBC Newcastle. It was really good fun and I enjoyed doing it. Gilly was kind and incredibly well prepared for our chat and I was impressed with her knowledge on not only the blog but also mental health in the broader subject.

Last time out I had written about how positive things were and how better I was feeling. Unfortunately, when poorer mental health strikes it doesn’t care too much for that. I wrote a couple of social media posts about not feeling too great within myself and I want to thank the people that replied and sent me messages of support. Thankfully, I feel a lot better now and begin a fresh week with a lot more positivity. Chloe and I booked a holiday to Marrakech yesterday and we are both really looking forward to this having not been away together since before COVID over two years ago. Having something positive like that to focus on is great and I am really excited for us spending some quality time together away from work and other distractions.  

This week I want to go back to a story from my younger days and analyse a key point in my mental health history, unbeknown to me at the time. Looking back at it now, I can see this was a major moment from my past. A moment that up until now I had not scrutinised properly. I had come back home following my first year at university. Being away from home had been tough at first and I had struggled to adapt from being separated from family and friends for the first time. After the first semester things settled down and I made some good friends, people that I am still in contact with today. I would not have stayed in Leeds for the three years had I not met these people, so Danny, Dan and Will thank you very much. I mean they tortured (not literally) me from day one but also were great people and good fun to be around and live with. I came back home to Alnwick for the summer with no real plans other than to work in the pub I had done previously and to play cricket for my team. The pub was such a crazy place to work but so much fun, and I worked with some amazing people who all became good friends. My bosses, Sue and John were amazing characters and if you ever visited the Coach Inn at Lesbury in those years, it was certainly never dull. I have some superb and cherished memories from that place.

It was good to come home and spend time with my mates from Alnwick. On one particular night out after a cricket match, I bumped into someone that I knew, and we got chatting. I can’t say that I have ever been particularly good at speaking to members of the opposite sex on nights out, but something seemed to go right that night. What can I say? The Denton charm has untapped limits… What followed over the next few weeks and months was great and I felt like we really got close. She was the first person that I can honestly say that I ‘fell in love with’ and I believed at the time the feeling was mutual. We would spend a lot of time together. A connection was formed, going a lot deeper than either of us were expecting. Despite the positivity and good times we were having I always felt that I was not good enough and that before long she would realise this and that would be that as they say. Those feelings of insecurity and unworthiness I would imagine manifested themselves into unattractive qualities. As the summer was drawing to a close the realisation that we would no longer be spending time together dawned upon us, well it certainly did for me. I went back to Leeds, she started at Uni in Newcastle. Then it all went south.

I wanted this whole thing to work, why couldn’t it? The answer was simple. One half of us did not. What happened over the next three to four months wasn’t good. I would be coming back at weekends on the promise of time being spent together, it never happened. This went on and on and on. I would be told one thing then actions would follow that would not back this up. Now, you may be reading this and thinking, mate this sounds like so many break ups. Truth is you can’t break something up that never officially started however, when you are consumed in that moment you are helpless to the feelings you have. Its only now that time has elapsed that I can analyse what happened and see how poorly I was treated. I don’t for one second think this is unique to me, and people are not heart broken every single day, they are. But this is my take on it and this my blog, my bat and ball so read on. There were months of messaging, phone calls endless promises of meet ups but every time I would be let down. I still to this day don’t know why, it has never been explained so in a way I never got that closure that I needed. If at any point, I had been categorically told that this was never going to happen then I would have left it, it just never was. I was strung along for months, kept there just in case she ever really wanted to commit. But it never happened.

We finally did see one another at Christmas, but it didn’t end well. For me anyway. The frustration and build up of negative thoughts from the previous months had been a lot to handle. I will explain how I felt shortly which is the important message in this story. It was hard seeing her again. It had been a long time. I felt anxiety that I had never experienced before. At Christmas emotions run high and 2010 was no different. The town was busy, we spoke briefly. All my feelings came rushing back and as I tried to articulate how I felt I could see that the game was up. Finally, after all the months of being told how important I was and how that a commitment would come in time I just had to wait that bit longer, I could see that I had been played like a plonker and “I’m not a plonker”

I raced out of the pub I had been in, Oscars. What a place. A wave of anger and a sense of despair gripped me. In what can only be described as an idiotic action I punched the closest thing to me which happened to be a window. As you can imagine, I came off second best. Blood pouring from a wound on the back of my hand, I managed to get home but had to be taken to hospital. Later I was required to undergo an operation and physio to recover my hand and wrist. I had to wear a cast on my wrist for a decent amount of time. I felt a lot of embarrassment and shame for doing what I did. I had a visit from the police a few days later questioning why I had done it, and I had to write a letter of apology to the pub owners. Another crazy drunken episode and over something that I now look back at and question why did I bother?

In the weeks that followed, things became very strained between me and the person in question. I found this very hard to take. Contact was severed, and I was made out to be some crazy (jury is still out on that one to be fair) person who had been living in a fantasy world for the last few months. I felt rejected, abandoned, not good enough, not worthy. I had built this person up so much that I had conditioned myself to think I was not good enough when actually looking back, it was the other way around. Maybe, possibly. Who knows?  Making someone feel so worthless is not my idea of a good time and although I don’t think she got any enjoyment from that, the effort that I had put in and way in which I had treated her was certainly not bad. The following months were hard, and I struggled in my second and third years at uni. This definitely had an adverse effect on my life for the next two to three years and I don’t think I got over the euphoric and desperate feelings this person was capable of making me feel for some time.

During that period, I do not recall feelings of wanting to commit suicide but I was definitely very low and self-medicated heavily with alcohol. At the time I probably thought I was drowning my sorrows when in fact I was just, drowning. I have only in more recent years come to terms with how poorly this person actually made me feel. She had a partial grip on my mental state for years, what a waste. Every so often, she would drop back in. Remind me of what I was missing, flirt with my mind that I had a chance again when in reality I didn’t. I would be buoyant if I had seen she had messaged me or got in touch in some way when in reality it was probably because she was lonely or bored. Having that hold over someone for so much time reminds me of a song befitting her completely by Mcfly – Party Girl, “This place is prison, I’m chained up, I give up. And I’m at her mercy. She wouldn’t let me go” and she didn’t.

This has been an important blog for me, I have needed to write this down. I have never spoken about this fully to anyone until today writing this piece and also to my therapist. People have always known half-truths and misconstrued stories, so I needed to write my account, get it out and close it off completely. I believe a lot of what happened then shaped me into the person I became after it all went down. I have moved on and had better relationships with better people. I am in a relationship now that is one hundred times more than what ever this was. Chloe gives me so much more than this person ever would have and I am very lucky to have that. More on her soon!

Thanks for reading, I am sure this story will resonate with a lot of people. As I mentioned earlier, we have all been through break ups, but people are able to deal with issues better than others. All break ups are unique to the couple in question. That is why they are usually so hard.

Thank you, goodnight much love.

Nick Denton

Sobering Thoughts

Sobering Thoughts Volume Six – Now I’m in it

The last couple of posts have definitely been a tough task to write so I am hoping this one might be a little easier. I said last week that I wanted to do an up-to-date account of how things were going. This will be a really positive thing for me to write down to measure my progress and see how far I have come over the last two to three months. On Wednesday I will have passed ten weeks without having an alcoholic drink. I think the longest I have been in my adult life without a drink was last year when I was dieting and exercising in conjunction with a structured plan provided by none other than my great friend Ross Mackenley, also know by his alter egos Aesthetically Trained / Millhouse / RMT Gymtime plus many more. I had gone three and a half months whilst on the programme and had taken a special day off the plan to watch the England v Croatia Euros match. A light day and I didn’t overindulge, leading to the incorrect conclusion that I could manage this moderation lark. I am going to surpass this milestone over the next coming months, and my resolute statement of this is a testament to how far I have come. That belief in myself now that I have made this positive change, and that alcohol is not to play a part in my life is highly satisfying. I want to share how I have got to this moment over the last couple of months. It has no way been easy, but boy do I feel a whole lot better. Largely, this has been down to not drinking, but also by not succumbing to the cravings and desires to open a bottle, pull a cork and devour the moonshine it has allowed me to make more positive decisions enabling better outcomes and productivity of my days. I have explained in previous posts and will continue to do so in many more regarding the intrinsic link of poor mental health and alcohol abuse. Sorry to bang on about it guys!

My mental outlook on nearly everything has become a lot clearer. I feel happier than I have done for quite a long time. This is inevitably down to the lack of alcohol I am shovelling down my throat, but it is also the product of many different aspects I have maintained over the last two to three months.

Firstly, through diet and exercise. Once I had stopped drinking, I decided that I needed and wanted to get fitter again. I had got myself into really good shape last year having applied myself to a strict diet and exercise plan. Looking back on the photos from last year when the plan ended, I looked pretty good and very lean. I made the mistake of not carrying this on. If you are following a training plan provided by an expert coach like Ross, then sticking with him after you complete it is an absolute must. He doesn’t just coach you physically, there are a lot of mental strengths he can give you as well. This sounds like a free plug for his business which he will hate… but I genuinely mean it. Having accountability is key for anyone looking to give up drinking or make positive changes to their lives. It is far too easy to go back to the old ways you had before. This is what I did.

I started going to the gym with Jack and instantly started to enjoy it. My previous experiences of gyms were that they are full of pretentious cranks who look down on little weak lads like me. Don’t get me wrong, they are still full of them. But having Jack with me has been great as he is not only very experienced in the gym (you don’t get the nickname bi’s and arms for nothing) but he is also great at putting you at ease in those surroundings. I look forward to going and even have the confidence now to go and train by myself alongside the big lads and lasses! I am starting to lose the weight I had put back on and the positivity you get from walking out of the gym after a good session is great. Summer rig pending, I hope. This leads to better food choices etc etc, you know the drill. But a decent well-maintained diet is another key attribute to the stronger mind. I still afford myself some treats here and there especially at first when I stopped boozing. You need to replace the copious amounts of sugar that reside in alcohol and naturally sweets, cakes and fizzy drinks can fill that void. Anything is better than gassy lager though, right?

Therapy has been going well. At first when I had started going, I was really not into it at all. It was a chore to be going and trying to discuss feelings and emotions I had kept inside me for years. Through the alcohol support counselling I have been attending along side this, both have been instrumental to feeling better. Claire, my support coordinator for alcohol has been really supportive and there with me every step of the way, from when I was still drinking to now where we are almost at a point for me to be discharged from her care. I still want to carry on for a while longer with this though as I feel I am still only at the start of what is a long road to navigate.

My therapist at Northern Guild has also been incredibly patient and understanding with me. I don’t think I was really opening up at first in those early sessions. Now I feel like I can go to these appointments and unburden fully on whatever it is we decide to talk about that day. She helps me to look at myself and issues from angles I would never have thought to do myself. If you are struggling with your own mental health and/or any alcohol related issues, then I can’t recommend these services enough. Feel free to send me a private and confidential message and I can help put you in touch with someone who I know will be able to help. Talking and addressing your issues is the only way you can make the positive changes to enable yourself to feel stronger and happier. In my opinion, doing it alone or with your own willpower will not be enough. And I speak from experience here. Accountability and support are king.

Keeping busy has been another key aspect of my recent success and sobriety. Sitting at home, along with nothing to do is the gateway back to previous bad judgements. Of course, downtime for yourself is needed but I have tried to keep as active and busy as possible without burning out. As I have mentioned going to the gym five or six times a week is helping but I also have the new cricket season just about to start on Saturday which takes up the full day and then training during the week. The social aspect of this is also something to look forward to before, during and after the games. I am also involved with a fantastic charity which I am going to do a full post on very soon. This is on Thursday evenings. I have been volunteering with Foodcycle since the pandemic and it is not just an essential service to the community, from a personal side it is a great charity to be involved with and it has definitely assisted with my rehabilitation process. I am very lucky to be a part of it and enjoy helping out once or twice a month. Getting out and about socially whether with friends, family or my partner has also been a lot of fun. I have felt the energy to do more and generally get out and enjoy myself. Prior to stopping drinking I didn’t really do anything other than maybe the odd night a week around at Jack’s house or an occasional meal out. I have been going to comedy shows and was fortunate to be at the Sam Fender gig last week in Newcastle. An unbelievable show. I even attended this by myself due to some unfortunate circumstances which meant a friend could not go. Previously this would have been a messy night and I would have made it more about how much I could drink in that evening rather than being present in that moment and enjoying the outstanding show that Mr Fender put on. I have started reading more, some fiction but also some really great sobriety books and immersing myself in as much content as I can on staying sober and its wide range of benefits. Podcasts as well, as many podcasts as I can on mental health and life without the booze. I can’t recommend them enough. Staying active and not sitting still has steered my mind away from wanting to drink and feeling low, anxious, and despondent.

With all this combined I am feeling in a much better place. Yes of course there are still moments and feelings of doubt of whether I can maintain this and keep ploughing forwards. When you are drinking heavily, feeling low and depressed there can be a very strange mindset of wanting to feel like this, it is very hard to explain. The cycle of getting pissed and feeling atrocious the morning after can be easily remedied by another drink to pull yourself around. Then you start to feel drunk again and so on. Its easier to make that bad decision and carry on wallowing in your own misery. Breaking that cycle as I have explained in other posts is not easy, but it can be done I promise. It would be easy for me to nip to the shop now or drop into pub and sink a few jars, but I don’t want to do that. I have come this far, and I have a responsibility and dedication to myself not to fuck this up.

Thanks as always for reading and I hope it has been a good insight to how I am feeling now. I want this positivity to remain and to keep driving forward. Next week I want to recount a memory from my early twenties and a very ugly episode from my past. It’s all healing, I think…

Thank you, goodnight, much love.

Nick Denton

Sobering Thoughts

Sobering Thoughts Volume Five – Paint it Black

Last week’s blog was a tough one to write. It was an intense subject matter and I think it gave you the reader a real insight into my mind. From my point of view, it was a great release. To cover that many emotions and feelings in a relatively short blog was a good step towards unburdening myself of the mental struggles I have had in the past. I hope it’s another foot forward to reaching a resting place where my mind allows me to be happy and stay healthy. I admit it was a lengthy read last week, so thanks for staying with me if you did. I felt I could have written for pages and pages on that topic but this utopia of the mind I am searching for will only come at the right pace. In this week’s blog I am going to talking about the night of Sunday 17th October. I have mentioned this in a previous blog without going into the specifics of the night and how I was feeling.

It had been a heavy couple of months of drinking on nights out, weddings and stag dos and I had got back into a habit of drinking more regularly. Without recognising the early onset signs, I had been starting to slip. Sleeping in too late after a heavy night or not performing properly for work to mood swings from one hour to the next. This is and was a bizarre feeling. I could go from being euphoric to feeling like the world was ending in the space of five minutes. I would give myself little things to look forward to on a night time whether it was a few pints in the local boozer or a bottle of wine to engulf that night, sometimes both. Those little things I would see as wins for me, when in truth they were causing those mood swings I mention above. On this particular Sunday I met a few friends who had also come to the see the unveiling of the new Newcastle era at St. James Park following the highly publicised takeover, I don’t know if you heard about it…? This should have been a very happy day for me, and every toon fan no matter what the result was, and I am sure it was for the vast majority. Things started off fine, I had even slowed my drinking down and started with a couple of soft drinks. I saw everyone around me enjoying themselves and having a few pints and thought yeh, I am having a bit of that as well. This a special day so let’s make the most of it.

I didn’t get too drunk that day, because if I did it would have made what happened more understandable to me. The game was quite a strange one, I can remember the atmosphere being absolutely electric, the flags, Jimmy Nail’s Big River blasting out before kick-off. Everyone was genuinely happy and after the appalling couple of years we had with COVID and not being allowed to do anything let alone go to football matches, coupled with the torrid tenure of Mike Ashley at Newcastle it was great to be in the stadium and feel the collectiveness come back. Even with old cabbage head himself Steve Bruce in charge for his 1000th game he couldn’t ruin it for everyone. We scored after a couple of minutes, and everyone goes mental (maybe a dodgy choice of word to use in a blog about mental health but let’s run with it) myself and the fella next to me embrace and its joyous it really is. You are probably thinking, how does it go bad from here? Spurs hit back within the first twenty-five minutes of the game and are ahead, but this doesn’t dampen the spirits of everyone. This is a new beginning, a new dawn and fresh hope so the game continues, and the carnival atmosphere remains. This is until something quite terrible happens. Just before half time a man tragically suffers a heart attack in the East Stand of the ground. This is the stand over to my right as I look at the pitch. There is a huge commotion, with fans desperately trying to get stewards attention. Eventually thanks to some of the players and fans help is given but watching this unfold I found it to be very distressing to a point where I had to go down into the concourse and have a drink. A wise move brain Denton thinks but in reality, not a great one. The alcohol mixed with emotions from the day turn my mood and I begin to feel very low.

What happened next was all a bit of a blur so I can’t recall it all specifically. I remember going back to my seat for the second half and watching the first fifteen minutes with nothing too memorable happening. My mind was full, fixed on the poor man that had suffered the cardiac arrest and it made me feel incredibly sad. I started to think what if he has died? How awful would that be. To come to a game on such a big occasion and potentially not go home the same night. Around the hour mark my vision became blurred, not literally but my surroundings seemed to disappear, and I was transfixed with what had occurred. I don’t remember any part of the game from there.

I was motionless and a wave of anxiety started to grip me like I had never experienced before. You’d think zoning out of a Newcastle game would have become the norm over the past two years but this was different. It was almost like I wasn’t present any longer. Something in my mind changed and I made the decision there and then that I would not be returning home that evening. I don’t know if the event in the crowd had triggered something, but my mind had flipped. Chloe, my girlfriend had arrived at my flat and was waiting for me there so we could spend the night together when I got in, but I decided that I wasn’t going home. The last few months had finally caught up with me. I went to the darkest place imaginable. I felt the despair creep in and that I no longer wanted to live. All the darkest parts of my past leapt to the forefront of my consciousness. This was it, I had finally reached the end. Time to go. Time to stop feeling like this. I was at the point of sadness and defeat, there was no way back from here. I thought about my family, friends, and everyone I care for and concluded that I had to stop putting them through it all. Stop disappointing everyone, stop feeling like I didn’t really belong anywhere. I made a plan to get back on the metro for one final time. I am one of those weirdos that actually like the metro for some reason. I went to the closest pub to the metro at central station quickly dispatched two or three pints for old times sake and got on the metro.

I got off at my usual stop and instead of turning left for home I went right and walked to a place where I knew no one would be around, I didn’t need an audience for the final act. My mind had been made up for a good hour or two now and nothing was going to stop me. I had written out a message of goodbye to Chloe and asked her to make my family and friends understand. I trusted her to deliver this for me. Analysing this now this was a terrible thing to ask of her, but I knew she would come through for me. I walked for around half a mile onto the metro railway bridge and removed things from my pockets. I had not planned things to total perfection as I now had to wait for a train. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your opinion of me normal service on the metro for a Sunday is pretty infrequent so the wait was long. Finally, I heard it, the sound of the train hammering along the tracks. This was it, the end. My heart began to race but I knew this was the right thing to do, put an end to years of failure. In the long run, once the initial hurt was felt I reasoned that everyone would be better off. I went to climb onto the ledge of the bridge, the timing needed to be right. The train was hurtling towards me now and I closed my eyes ready to jump. But I couldn’t do it, failure again. Not delivering on a promise I had made yet again. Fear gripped me and I couldn’t bring myself to jump. The train passed by and I broke down in the darkness and sat on the ground. I felt useless in that moment, a total fucking loser.

My phone had been switched off for a while now and of course I was not naive to think people wouldn’t be worried at that moment. I ignored every message and every call from those trying to reach me, selfish again putting those people through that. I am sorry for that. I don’t think I apologised enough at the time. My plan then changed, and I began walking through the nearby fields. I must have walked for two hours maybe more, determined to try something else. I knew a busy road could be the alternative, not thinking of the poor unsuspecting driver I planned to jump out upon. Whilst walking I could not stop the feelings of complete shame and failure again. Why couldn’t I do it? Fear mostly but that shouldn’t have been enough. Having walked for that time eventually I answered a call to my dad. I felt he would understand, he would know how I felt. I was still determined to end what I had started but couldn’t find the courage to do it. For days, weeks possibly after I regretted not making the jump and ending my life. I would have finally found some peace, away from my dark thoughts and moods. My dad found me and the enormity of what I had done to my parents and loved ones was evident, but I felt nothing. I felt cold, empty inside even more of a failure. To this day, other than the fear I don’t know what else stopped me in that specific moment. I came back to my flat with Chloe waiting for me. My parents and stepdad also came in and stayed with me to make sure nothing else happened that night. The worry I had put them and everyone through was awful, but I still felt alone. I felt I had unfinished business with death, and we would be back meeting on that bridge again very soon.

I had never properly experienced feelings like that before, I had never physically got to the point where ending my life was right there in front of me. I honestly hope I never go back to that place again. I know that so many people don’t make it back from the bridge, sadly too many are lost to suicide. The feeling that is the only way out for them, it is heart breaking for so many families. I despise reading or hearing people say that suicide is cowardly, that is absolute rubbish. It takes courage to make the decision and take that final action, but there has to be another way for anyone in that moment. We must do more as a society to help the most vulnerable people in these situations. I have been lucky I know that, others don’t have people that are there for them. If you are reading this and ever feel like you are at that point, please talk to someone. Anyone. There is light when the darkness ends, I promise.

Been a heavy one guys, so apologies if this hasn’t brightened up your Monday evening. I wanted to share this experience to help me try to make sense of that night. I still don’t quite get it myself at times. I hope that it can also be a reference point to others that not taking that final decision can be the best choice you make. Next week I want to talk about how I am feeling right now and what I have been doing in the last two months to try and make myself feel as Atomic Kitten once said, whole again.

Thanks again for all the amazing comments and support. I have an interview with BBC Radio Newcastle coming out on Wednesday at around 10am talking about the blog and how it is helping me and other people. Feel free to tune in and let me know what you think.

Much love,


Sobering Thoughts